via WVU Today
Ever since I heard about West Virginia University taking the pulse of its football devotees to improve its gameday atmosphere via the Fan Experience Committee, I've been curious about what its members would have to say — and how it would actually be reflected at gametime.
Now having been fortunate enough to have attended a good number of ballgames the past few seasons, I can honestly say I'm mostly pretty happy with it (product on the field notwithstanding).
The things I like:
- Mountaineer Marching Band — It's the backbone of the game experience; nothing says college football like the sound of a big brass section and a propulsive drumline. Seriously, I'd go to battle behind these guys.
- Dougity Dog — Holy crap, I'm glad he's on our side. Great polish and videography makes us look good on the big screen and gets you pumped.
- Country Roads — After a win, especially a hard-fought victory or on the heels of a previous heartbreaker, few things express school pride better than channeling your inner John Denver with 60,000 of your closest friends.
- First Down Cheer — I was in school during the '80s (4 1/2 year plan plus grad school) and I can't say I remember doing this until the '90s. It's quirky and unique and I've never seen other schools do this, so I hope it's ours. (Unlike the "We are ..." cheer I've heard from Penn State to Southern Cal to some other school that thinks they invented it.)
At the same time, though, I'd like to see a few changes — tweaks, if you will:
- Third Down Bell Toll — A team has to earn the right to announce its third down defense as if it were the opposing offense's death knell. We lost that right when Jeff Casteel left for Arizona. This needs to be put on hold for a few seasons.
- Alternative Music — I'm not talking SXSW here, I just mean how about a little variety — specifically a little bit of country — thrown into the hip-hop, classic rock, Top 40 mix, both pre- and in-game? This is a rural state, after all, God's country. A little break of Alabama's "Mountain Music" wouldn't have to be long but could surely get some hands to clapping. (I'm open to suggestions here.)
- Strike Up the Band — I get that we've got this super jumbotron public address system and, sure, why not pretend like we're the state's pro stadium and blare "Rock and Roll, Part 2," but we've got this awesome marching band that every person in the stadium is proud of playing second fiddle to a whole lot of canned music. Why not use it?
- Loud Noises — And not it's not just Brick Tamland. And it's not just the jumbotron. It feels like an over-reliance on gadgets to get a crowd pumped. If s/he's attuned to the fans in the stands, a good scoreboard operator can sustain a good vibe, but especially when things are looking bleak, I've yet to see an audio/video clip turn around a bad one. Then it just sounds desperate. Sometimes, you just have to let things run their course until the next wave rises.
The rest? I love it. A foot-long hot dog, peanuts and a bottle of beer? That's America. "Hey Baby" during the T-shirt toss? I sing along every time. Hell, I even enjoy the menacing bass lines of "Seven Nation Army." (So sue me.)
And, if I can paraphrase what a commenter said somewhere, if you only make one game every few years or so, all the bells and whistles are new to you. Those of us who are lucky enough to attend with some regularity ought to be grateful to be able to go and thankful we've got the facilities to put on this kind of a show. (Steps off soap box.)
That said, it's still nice to be open to suggestions from the peanut gallery. I'll be curious to see how well the bureaucracy of our athletic department can actually absorb and implement the results from their little committee. Here's hoping to good reviews in about two months.